Campbell House Museum – Toronto’s Oldest Building from the Town of York

2021 - The Campbell House Museum
2021 – The Campbell House Museum

The Campbell House Museum is located at ‪160 Queen St W‬ (at University Ave on the northwest corner) in downtown Toronto.

The Architecture of the Historic Home

The Georgian-era home was built in 1822 by Sir William Campbell. It’s the only remaining residential structure from the Town of York. Originally located on the north side of Adelaide St E (once Duke St) at the top end of Frederick St, the 2½-storey Palladian architecture home features a symmetrical south façade and a pediment gable with an oval window.

About Sir Campbell

Sir William Campbell played a key role in the early history of the city and province. Born in Scotland in 1758, he first studied law, then became a soldier. Sir Campbell moved to Nova Scotia, becoming a lawyer and politician. In 1811, he and his family moved to the Town of York (then Upper Canada) as the British crown gave him a judgeship. He was the 6th Chief Justice of Upper Canada and the first judge in Canada to receive a knighthood.

The Home After the Campbell’s

1952 - Masco Electric Company in the Campbell House at Adelaide St E (once Duke St) and Frederick St
1952 – Masco Electric Company in the Campbell House at Adelaide St E (once Duke St) and Frederick St (Toronto Public Library r-2794)

After 1900, the home was occupied by various businesses and by the 1960s, the house was facing demolition. The property owners, Coutts-Hallmark Greeting Cards, wanted to extend their parking lot and offered the home to anyone who could remove it. The Advocates Society, a lawyers association, formed the Sir William Campbell Foundation in order to save the house. The Foundation, along with the City and Canada Life Insurance Company, entered into an agreement to move the home to the northwest corner of Queen St West and University Ave.

On the Move

On March 31, 1972, the 200-ton heritage house made the slow trek on dollies with 56-wheels. There was much media coverage. Traffic lights and signs had to be taken down along the 1.6 km path.

A year later, the Campbell House was one of the 490 buildings on Heritage Toronto’s initial induction list.

The Campbell House Today

1972 - Crowds around the Campbell House while being relocated
1972 – Crowds around the Campbell House while being relocated

The protection of the home was the start of the historic preservation effort in the city. The grounds of the historic Campbell House Museum also feature Relic Park. It’s a permanent exhibition called Lost & Found with fragments from Toronto’s lost buildings (similar to the rescued relics at Guild Inn Estate). Along with museum events and exhibits, the Campbell House is available for private functions.

Campbell House Museum Photos

1883 - Elevator Works company in the Campbell House at Adelaide St E (once Duke St) and Frederick St
1883 – Elevator Works company in the Campbell House at Adelaide St E (once Duke St) and Frederick St (Toronto Public Library r-2647)
2021 - The Campbell House Museum
2021 – The Campbell House Museum
1913 - The Capewell Horse Nail Co in the Campbell House at Adelaide St E (once Duke St) and Frederick St
1913 – The Capewell Horse Nail Co in the Campbell House at Adelaide St E (once Duke St) and Frederick St (Toronto Public Library r-3000)
1952 - Masco Electric Company in the Campbell House at Adelaide St E (once Duke St) and Frederick St
1952 – Masco Electric Company in the Campbell House at Adelaide St E (once Duke St) and Frederick St (Toronto Public Library r-2794)
1961 - Masco Electric Company in the Campbell House at Adelaide St E (once Duke St) and Frederick St
1961 – Masco Electric Company in the Campbell House at Adelaide St E (once Duke St) and Frederick St
1972 - Crowds around the Campbell House while being relocated
1972 – Crowds around the Campbell House while being relocated
1972 - The Campbell House being relocated, notice the street lamp moved out of the way
1972 – The Campbell House being relocated, notice the street lamp moved out of the way
1972 - The Campbell House being relocated
1972 – The Campbell House being relocated
1972 - In the distance, the Campbell House being relocated
1972 – In the distance, the Campbell House being relocated
1972 - The Campbell House move, almost at its new location, looking north from University Ave & Queen St W
1972 – The Campbell House move, almost at its new location, looking north from University Ave & Queen St W
1972 - The Campbell House being relocated
1972 – The Campbell House being relocated
1972 - Campbell House Museum renovations
1972 – Campbell House Museum renovations
1977 - Simcoe & Queen Sts, looking northeast
1977 – Simcoe & Queen Sts, looking northeast
2021 - The Campbell House Museum with the Canada Life Building
2021 – The Campbell House Museum with the Canada Life Building
2021 - Campbell House Museum entrance
2021 – Campbell House Museum entrance
2020 - Fragment in Relic Park from the Bank of Montreal once located at 50 King St W
2020 – Fragment in Relic Park from the Bank of Montreal once located at 50 King St W
2020 - Fragment in Relic Park from the Amen House once located at 480 University Ave
2020 – Fragment in Relic Park from the Amen House once located at 480 University Ave
2020 - Corinthian capital fragment in Relic Park from the Toronto Star Building once located at 80 King St W
2020 – Corinthian capital fragment in Relic Park from the Toronto Star Building once located at 80 King St W
2020 - Fragment in Relic Park from the Imperial Oil Building once located at 92 King St E
2020 – Fragment in Relic Park from the Imperial Oil Building once located at 92 King St E
2020 - Panel fragments in Relic Park from The Granite Club (tall panel) once located at 63 St Clair Ave W and Toronto Star Building (short panel) once located at 80 King St W
2020 – Panel fragments in Relic Park from The Granite Club (tall panel) once located at 63 St Clair Ave W and Toronto Star Building (short panel) once located at 80 King St W
2020 - Relic Park fragment from the Ontario Bank once located at 34 Wellington St E
2020 – Relic Park fragment from the Ontario Bank once located at 34 Wellington St E
2020 - Relic Park fragment from the Imperial Oil Building once located at King & Church Sts
2020 – Relic Park fragment from the Imperial Oil Building once located at King & Church Sts
2020 - Sir William Campbell heritage plaque at 160 Queen St W
2020 – Sir William Campbell heritage plaque at 160 Queen St W
1924 - Future site of the Campbell House Museum and Canada Life Building at Queen St W & University Ave, looking northwest
1924 – Future site of the Campbell House Museum and Canada Life Building at Queen St W & University Ave, looking northwest
1924 - Future site of the Campbell House Museum at Queen St W & University Ave, looking north
1924 – Future site of the Campbell House Museum at Queen St W & University Ave, looking north
2020 - How the original location of the Campbell House at Adelaide St E & Frederick St looks today
2020 – How the original location of the Campbell House at Adelaide St E & Frederick St looks today
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